Never mind that shelves are jammed with versions of this classic: make room for Reid’s (Picture a Tree) innovative interpretation, distinguished by her trademark Plasticine artwork and a generous supply of humor. Reid turns Moore’s verse on its head, revealing a mouse who is very much stirring—it stares out at readers in alarm, caught in the act of sneaking a cookie from a bowl. This isn’t the only mouse awake, either: its siblings are scrambling to hang their stockings by the fireplace. The discrepancy between the familiar words and fresh visuals provides ample humor as the mice resist bedtime, rather than nestling “all snug in their beds.” Tableaux-style scenes let readers view antics on both stories of the mice’s log house, and Reid’s artistry results in detailed scenarios with uncommon dimension and texture. Ages 4–7. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1—In this take on the classic poem, mice are not only stirring, they make up all the characters--from the narrator, a patriarch of a large, rambunctious family, to St. Nicholas himself. With her signature Plasticine illustrations that give off a textured claymation effect, Reid also deviates from the quiet Christmas Eve approach of past versions. As expected from a litter of eight plus two infant mice, there is a underlying sense of activity and energy. For example, the visions of sugarplums dancing over the children's heads are actual fruit being tossed from one top bunk to another, and no one really sleeps until St. Nicholas has done his job. Children will relate to this sense of holiday excitement and anticipation.—Joanna K. Fabicon, Los Angeles Public Library
Reid turns her Plasticine talents to an interpretation of the classic poem. Taking her cue from "not even a mouse," she focuses her visual narrative on a mouse family that inhabits a cozy, snow-covered log. Though the busyness of its inhabitants betrays that many creatures are actually stirring, readers are likely to forgive this artistic license. They will be too busy poring over the detail-filled spreads to carp. A harassed mouse parent has a swaddled babe under one arm and vainly tries to keep another from playing with the Christmas stockings with the other. Far from being "nestled / all snug in their beds," these mouselings are raising a rumpus, climbing about on their bunk beds and tossing sugarplums at one another. Santa's approach is spectacular, pairs of Plasticine reindeer increasing in size to accentuate perspective as they pull a tiny mouse Santa aloft while a fox looks up from below. The jovial Santa is appropriately round, though he has just a faint hint of white chin whiskers. Apparently oblivious to the onlooking mouse family, he stuffs the stockings before departing—as the mouse children scamper back into bed to avoid being caught out by mama and papa. The lively mischief will carry children past the narrative inconsistencies in this fun-filled romp. (Picture book. 3-5)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Folk artist and preacher Finster infuses his interpretation of the traditional holiday poem with his characteristic evangelical verve. Patterned with what look to be brush doodlings, his surreal compositions create a psychedelic party mood that contrasts sharply with the rather staid verse. Each spread is framed by a running word-border of such Finster preachings as "I am trying to get people back to God before the end of the earths [sic] planet." An eccentric dose of holiday cheer. All ages. (Oct.)
Santa always knows just the perfect present, and so it is in Whatley's unusual interpretation of this classic Christmas poem. Santa spies a photograph of a boy dressed as a cowboy. The man indicates to Santa that it is a picture of himself, and when he was a child, he dreamed of being a cowboy. Santa presents him with a cowboy figure that appears to be of more recent vintage and looks somewhat like a cross between Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. Unusual angles and interesting perspectives abound in the illustrations. The reindeer are memorable for their expressions, and St. Nick is a kindly-looking fellow. This is the board book version of a picture book published in 1999. 2004 (orig. 1999), HarperFestival/HarperCollins, Ages 3 to 5.
Children's Literature - Della A. Yannuzzi
The book isn't new, but the illustrations are. Clement C. Moore's classic book describing Santa's night visit delivering toys to good boys and girls is as delightful today as it was when first published in the 1800s. The rhymes, descriptive words, the reindeer with endearing names and Santa's helpers hurrying to finish the toys in time for delivery still delight young readers and adults alike. The description of Santa will linger in a child's mind as he waits for sleep. His eyes, how they twinkled! His dimples, how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry! His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, and the beard of his chin was as white as the snow. It is a story that never grows old, but seems quite new through an illustrator's creative rendition. Illustrator Watson has done a wonderful job interpreting Moore's The Night Before Christmas. The drawings are clear, crisp and life-like. The colors are vivid and sharp and pleasing to the eye. The pictures jump out at the reader; they are so full of action. And Santa's 21st century sleigh is an up-to-date marvel that not only delivers toys, but at the touch of a button will serve up a cup of hot chocolate, espresso and milk for a weary Santa Claus. The elves in the front and back of the book are charming, whimsical visions of wonder. Lastly, the book cover is a close-up rendering of a jolly, red-cheeked, bearded Santa wearing flying goggles and headgear. "The Night Before Christmas" is a lovely tale, but Watson's illustrations are a feast for the eyes. Back material includes a clever Q & A two-pager between St. Nick and Watson. Reviewer: Della A. Yannuzzi
Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
An old-fashioned apprearance only begins to describe Rand's full color illustrations for this well-known and beloved Christmas poem. There are many eye-catching details to observe. There is a clean fireplace ready for Santa's descent down the chimney, but there is also a bookcase full of books on the right-hand side and a tree decorated with candles and paper chains. Lovely details accompany lines of the text. The children are warm and snug under their colorful quilts, Papa's toes are curled up as he looks out the window, the reindeer are attired in Nordic patterns, and Santa rides in a red sleigh that is covered with gold stars. With his twinkly eyes, this is the friendliest of Santas. Yet, with all the lovely details, the pictures are still simple and clean enough for toddlers and preschoolers to follow along. Originally published as a picture book, this traditional version is now appropriately available as a board book. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
Children's Literature - Carlee Hallman
In this traditional Christmas poem, the pictures show Santa driving a space ship, although he still has reindeer. The dashboard of the sleigh has various dials that read: NITROUS GAMA E-INJECT, CONTINENT, HOT CHOCOLATE, and SPACE COMPRESS. In the illustration for "He was dressed all in fur," Santa wears white furry trousers. Various elves carry a plastic tape dispenser, dog milk bone, an origami stork, and use a vacuum cleaner. The artist has an interview with St. Nick in which the question of how Santa is able to distribute all the presents in one night is answered, "the sleigh is able to expand the moment between ‘tick' and ‘tock' on Christmas Eve." Children and their parents will enjoy the artist's humorous interpretation of this old favorite.
Rand illustrates Moore's famous poem in a large-format picture book that showcases his colorful paintings in a series of double-page spreads. Even children in the back row of a story-time group will get the full effect of the moonlit New England snowscapes and cozy, period interiors. Not a stretch for Rand, but he's comfortably in his stride here, and his fans will find plenty to like. In fact, almost anyone looking for a traditional, soft-focus interpretation of this Christmas favorite will find it an appealing picture book.
From the Publisher
“A snow covered Victorian New York City is the location for Lobel’s version of this classic poem. Jolly St. Nick arrives, leaving an array of toys before he flies over a majestic scene of the Brooklyn Bridge and city skyline. Lobel’s paintings are gentle and reassuring, filled with intricate detail and family love.”—School Library Journal, Starred
Read an Excerpt
The Night Before Christmas
By Barbara Reid, Clement C. Moore
ALBERT WHITMAN & Company Copyright © 2013 Barbara Reid
All rights reserved.
'Twas the night before Christmas,
when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring,
not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung
by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas
soon would be there.
The children were nestled
all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugarplums
danced in their heads;
And Mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave a lustre of midday to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
"Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"
As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the housetop the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing
of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
Excerpted from The Night Before Christmas by Barbara Reid, Clement C. Moore. Copyright © 2013 Barbara Reid. Excerpted by permission of ALBERT WHITMAN & Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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